North Carolina Senator Natasha Marcus, D-Mecklenburg, has been spreading falsehoods about N.C.’s donor privacy bill. According to a new fact-check written by PolitiFact Reporter Paul Specht published on Monday, May 31, Sen. Marcus’ public comments on the donor privacy bill are ‘mostly false.’

Marcus has been a vocal opponent of NC Senate Bill 636, the “Donor Privacy” bill, and in a tweet from May 6, she claimed, “This bill would allow politically active 501(c)(4) organizations to hide major donors.”

The PolitiFact article declared her comments to be misleading, stating:

[I]t’s wrong for Marcus to suggest that the bill itself would move 501(c)(4) donor lists out of the public eye or outside the reach of the government. These lists are mostly concealed from the public already. And the bill specifically says its new rules would “not apply to disclosures required by State or federal law, criminal investigations, or orders of the court.”

Sen. Marcus was not alone in spreading this false information about the bill. Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, shared in the Twitter misinformation trend, tweeting, “In short, the bill says that non-profits can now conceal who their donors are.” In reality, PolitiFact reports, the bill does three main things:

  • Lists of nonprofit donor names can’t be released publicly “for any purpose unrelated to a member’s interest as a member” without consent of the nonprofit’s board of directors.
  • A nonprofit donor’s identity must remain private “if the person has notified the nonprofit corporation, in writing prior to or at the time of the donation, not to disclose the (donor’s) identity.”
  • Government officials who abuse their access to nonprofit donor lists could be subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor (punishable by up to 120 days in jail).

The John Locke Foundation believes donor privacy is an essential piece of Americans’ rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, embedded in our constitution.

“The right to free expression is fundamental to our free society.

We must reject laws that make people afraid to exercise their expressive rights. Retaliation isn’t theoretical, and the impacts are real. It’s time for North Carolina to proactively stop this tactic in its tracks.” – Jon Guze, Senior Fellow for Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation

Learn more about the Donor Privacy bill, S.B. 636, in our one-pager below. Read more about the need for donor privacy in our research report here.